The Marquette Golden Eagles (13-14, 5-9) headed east Tuesday to play the Providence Friars (7-20, 2-12) to start the final road trip of their 2012-13 season. The Golden Eagles were looking to get a couple more conference wins before the Big East Tournament starts and succeeded in doing so, beating the Friars 81-70.
Marquette’s largest point total of the season derived from four players with double digits in scoring. Junior Katherine Plouffe led the charge with her seventh double-double of the season with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Sophomore Arlesia Morse closely followed with 19 points; redshirt freshman Lauren Tibbs came off the bench to score 14 points; and sophomore Chelsie Butler rounded out the four with 11 points.
Associate coach Michelle Nason said the Golden Eagles used their size right from the opening whistle.
“We went into that game saying, ‘We’re going to take advantage,’ and we did,” Nason said.
Senior Sarina Simmons said the post players did the job right, which contributed to the road win.
“We’re very successful when we do things right the first time, and early enough in the game we found a great mismatch on the inside with our post players,” Simmons said. “They carried our team in the first half.”
Plouffe, Butler and Morse started for the game, but the bench proved to be vital for the Golden Eagles. Tibbs scored more than half of the bench’s 23 points, which helped Marquette close out the first half on an 8-2 run. The run gave Marquette an 11-point lead to end the half, which helped pad a second half that saw the Friars try for a comeback.
Simmons said scoring right before halftime helped the team close out the second.
“It was a good momentum push for us going into the second half,” Simmons said. “We just kept fighting, and we didn’t want to give up or let up.”
Plouffe was the only Golden Eagle to record double digit rebounds, but Marquette dominated the glass as a team. Marquette’s rebound differential was plus-28, with nearly half of those being offensive rebounds. The Golden Eagles used their size to grab the rebounds and then get second chances, which accounted for 24 of Marquette’s 81 points.
Nason and Simmons said rebounding was emphasized from the very beginning of the game.
“One of the things we really try to focus on is winning the battles on the boards,” Nason said. “That was a focus going into the game, and we knew we had a size advantage.”
“We set a goal to out-rebound them by seven, but once we saw we were dominating them … we just felt like ‘don’t let up, don’t let up’,” Simmons said.
Turnovers continued to plague the team, as Marquette turned over the ball 29 times, the most in Big East play for the Golden Eagles. Providence was able to convert the 29 turnovers into 27 points, but Marquette limited the damage the turnovers inflicted. Despite the high margin, the Golden Eagles aren’t dwelling on the mistakes and are focused on doing the good things even better.
“We can’t fault the kids for some of the turnovers because they’re trying to make the right passes to their teammates or execute what we’re trying to do,” Nason said. “What we’re really talking to our kids about down the stretch is taking care of the unforced turnovers.”
The Golden Eagles will finish their road trip against Georgetown on Saturday before closing out the season at home Monday against Cincinnati. The season finale will give Marquette a chance to avenge its two-point loss against the Bearcats on Feb. 13.